Lenin just knew he was going to love America. It was all
smiles and flowers, wonderful smells and happy people. He
couldn’t get over the welcome. There were lots of pretty
schoolgirls, too. This was somewhere he had wanted to be all
his life. Waving to the small but enthusiastic crowd, he moved
forward to shake the hand of the first person to welcome him
to the Promised Land.
mayor—it must surely be someone of great importance, he
reasoned, by the fine suit and shoes he wore—reached out.
Grasping Nicoli by the cheeks with both hands, he said,
"Who the hell are you and what are you doing in my
somewhat confused by this turn of events, attempted to give
him a nice Russian Bear hug complete with pecks on both
cheeks. At the same time he was saying, "Thanks to you,
then Nicoli saw the light or, rather felt it as a WHACK! on
the side of his head. He opened his eyes and realized the
mayor was actually a policeman—Sergeant Theodore
"Teddy" Baker, commander of the Seattle Drug
Interdiction Squad, operating out of Seattle’s Sea Tac
get in here and explain to me who and what the hell this mess
is," Baker ordered.
I just put him in here for a minute while I went to the loo
and ..." explained Detective Patti Anderson.
... I don’t care why, the question is, who and what? Jesus,
he drools and tried to kiss me. The loo? What the hell is a
Sarge, I don’t think the District Attorney wants you getting
that friendly with the perps, and the loo is actually British
for the can," detective Larry Smith added. "PBS must
have been on the boob tube last night."
shut up before I stuff you in a can and ... oh for crying out
loud, Patti, is your whole team nuts or what?"
that’s a good question ... and the answer is, two are nuts
and we’ve got one what."
okay. This guy," she said, pointing to Nicoli, who had
gone back to sleep and, while dreaming of sweeter things, had
slid off the couch onto the floor, one arm wrapped around
Baker’s leg. "This guy was wandering around the
terminal looking lost and a little loopy. So we do a run on
him, you know, to see if he’s carrying or anything, and it
turns out he’s on vacation and going to Las Vegas to meet a
relative or something. That part’s a little vague, because
like I said, he’s a little loopy."
it, hold it, hold it," Baker ordered, trying to get a
handle on the conversation while at the same time attempting
to untangle himself from Nicoli, who was making soft mewing
noises and tightening his grip on Baker’s leg. Directing his
question to the senior member of the field team, Detective
Patti Anderson, he asked her, "What in the blue blazes is
this condition you refer to as ‘loopy,’ huh? Is he strung
out on drugs, carrying drugs, drunk, or what?"
she could answer, Detective Little Al Whistler strolled in. He
was the junior member of the team, the one sent for drinks,
lunch, or anything else someone didn’t want to do.
guys. Who ordered what? Peanuts?" he asked, displaying a
small bag of cashews.
Larry Smith, known to one and all as "Peanuts," not
looking up from the papers he was working on, answered,
Little Al insisted, "I said peanuts."
proving he could read and talk at the same time, and sounding
more than a little exasperated, blindly answered, "Yeah,
Al tried once more. Vigorously shaking the bag of nuts,
"Whose peanuts?" he all but shouted.
am, dammit! What the hell’s the matter with you, boy? I’ve
been in the same room with you for six months now, and
suddenly you forget my name? Now, for the last time, I’m
Peanuts ... so, what do you want?"
guys," Patti interrupted. "What’s the
question is," Little Al sputtered, "whose goddamn
peanuts, that’s what!"
not to be ignored—and with the Russian improving his grip on
his uniformed leg, his drool puddling on the toe of a very
expensive Italian shoe—shouted, "He’s Peanuts
..." pointing to Detective Smith, "My Peanuts
..." pointing to the bag of cashews in Little Al’s
hand, "and that’s Patti’s loopy," pointing down
to the happily snorkeling Russian.
to believe he was the cause of all the confusion and in
imminent danger of demotion, Little Al cried out, "Loopy?
I didn’t bring any loopy," then quickly added,
"They were all out."
was dreamily remembering how friendly everyone had been on the
plane. When he began to become airsick, the passenger in the
seat beside him had shared his medication with him. Then there
was the puzzling part of the dream where strangers had shouted
at him, removed his clothes, redressed him, and gave him lots
of hot coffee. This was followed by something to eat, and here
it was a little fuzzy, it might have been something called
seems that Nicoli had a slight reaction to his seatmates’
"you’re-not-going-to-barf-on-me" straight off the
street corner prescription. Finally, after apologies that
included, "Please don’t call the Embassy," and
warnings about the kindness of strangers, he was sent by cab
to the nearest cheap hotel.
could not remember when he first thought to look for the
computer disc, but thank God—you could do that in Russia,
now—it was still in his jacket with its title folder
identifying it as Russian tea music. He’d had a bad moment
even while under the influence of the drugs in his system,
when Patti had started to play it in the office, but
thankfully, whoever had made it had the good sense to use some
awful music for the introduction. So, after a few moments, the
reviews were in. They were all bad, and the CD was returned to
his drool-stained jacket. Now it, and the rest of his personal
effects, including the Russian passport that had given Patti
such a jolt, were resting on the table of Room 5 of The Acorn
Lodge awaiting his full recovery.
let’s not have a screw up with another Russian, for Pete’s
sake," Sergeant Baker said when he discovered the Russian’s
passport. "I like being a sergeant and I assume you like
being a detective. Give him a quick look-see to make sure he’s
not carrying a bomb or anything, then let him go, and pray the
Consular General isn’t expecting another nephew."